Learning in a Critical State: The emergent complexity of learning, creativity and human culture
This thesis will start by looking at evidence that suggests the brain functions in a critical state, meaning that it poised between rigidity and chaos. It is thought that it is only in such a state that learning is optimized. What’s more, the brain seems to have two primary modes of functioning that seem to correspond with this critical nature. These two modes are attributed to the left and right hemispheres and can be seen as a looser broader style, primarily of the right hemisphere (RH), and a more rigid narrow style, primarily of the left hemisphere (LH). The looser style of the RH has for a long time been played down in our modern society in favour of rigid reductionism. What the theory seems to point at however is that there needs to be a balance between our two primary modes of cognition. To bring about such a balance there needs to be equal emphasis on looser, freer styles of learning. Play may be of primary importance in this respect with theories of play pointing towards it being a driver of change and of our massive adaptive potential as a species. Combining both the rigid and the flexible in learning is creativity, which will be explored in terms of past and current theories. Finally motivation will be looked at as the driving force behind learning and shown to also come in two parts each with its own pros and cons. The final discussion will link this theory to the process used in the production of the 25-minute documentary film that constituted the creative component of this thesis.
Advisor: Rock, Jenny
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Learning; Creativity; Play; Laterality; Balance; Motivation; Takahe
Research Type: Thesis